“Swallows hibernating in mud, a kite-flourishing batcatcher, a suitcase full of parrots… Paul Bavister’s poems are startlingly imaginative. But there is no whimsy here, just a steady, passionate rethinking of our relationship to the natural world. I read The Prawn Season at a sitting, like a thriller, which is exactly what it is.”
~ Matthew Francis
“Beneath the glittering, liquid detail of these poems lies the world whose darker currents are Bavister’s real concern. Recorded by the super-acute camera of the poet’s ‘ghost of myself’ and energised by Peter Hay’s excellent flowing illustrations, The Prawn Season is like a wonderful jump-cut film – oblique, unsettling, mysterious.” ~ Jane Draycott
Poems from The Prawn Season
When Douglas left we smashed and packed
into ice trays for trawlers in the harbour.
We sorted the fish from the prawns.
When Anne left we gutted the fish and boiled
the prawns and shelled some for restaurants
and tipped the rest out in the shop.
When John left we hosed the yard and counted
the takings and drove the van around town.
We threw the rotten fish out for the gulls.
When Steve left I spoke to the owner and the
red eyes of jellified fish and the peppercorn
eyes of prawns stared up at me pleading.
When the lobsters snapped free from
their elastic bands I ran past the owner’s
swimming eyes to the sliding doors.
I drink as I swim and the water is pure and sweet.
Deep down a fish catches light, the only life I see
in the cold clear lake. Along the shore, log cabins
have become gift shops. They sell postcards showing
creatures of the lake, dinosaurs with needle teeth.
I swim into deeper water – open my eyes into the cold
and my shadow jumps from rock to rock. The water
is almost empty of life. Shadows between the boulders
do not move. A single fish turns on its silver side.
I let sweet water flow into my mouth.
- The Prawn Season
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